We human beings are fundamentally ontological. Sharon would’ve liked that word. In the meaning making sense of things, Sharon took special delight. But she does not get to read this tribute. When she died around 7:00 p.m., this February 28th, she did not make it into the leap year. The 28th we get to remember, yearly. She left the up and down and round and round carousel of life. She was, at last, free. Yet a surprising day of sunshine, Feb 29th, wedged into the calendar for those on Vancouver Island. The preceding weeks of grey clouds and rain had marred wishes for pleasant weather, and the horrid threat of Sharon’s cancer loomed over all those who loved her. By March 1st, here, so far from Calgary, it again rained and rained. ‘Tears from heaven’, indeed. Our grief is profound. Sharon’s life was too short, at 57. And as for March, we are called upon to march on and on. Sharon would like that image. Yes, we each must eventually also go, but for Sharon, cancer was her last marathon, here on earth.
She’d actually run a marathon in every province of this vast country. That’s ten 26.21875-mile marathons in a lifetime. Most of us have not yet run one. For those of us unfamiliar with this Canada of ours, it makes for an incredible feat of training, preparing, flying or driving to, and then attending the grueling races, stretched out on diverse tracks across a vast country thousands of miles wide. And always, she appeared humble about her achievements. Always, she was interested in and caring of others. Always, she loved her dogs, and loved nature, and loved the people she knew. And always, she was supportive and compassionate and insightful.
Jessie (Sharon’s mother) and Sharon had flown out westward, 2016, just especially to see me perform with a new actor, Perry Burton, who played ‘Mitch’, in ‘Tuesdays with Morrie.’ (Morrie dies, onstage, of ALS.) Nine years before, in 2007, they’d seen Jay Newman’s ‘Mitch’. (That was the same year Jessie's husband, and Sharon's father, Vic Peters, died of the disease.) In 2010, they saw me do it with Donovan Deschner. And next, in 2018, when I was invited to perform ‘Morrie’ in Canmore, with Rob Murray, they drove to see the show yet again. Think of the courage, the bravery, it took them to stare down the face of death, again and again. Yes, ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, has claimed and is claiming many victims, but for Sharon, and her mother, as well as for Sharon’s older brothers, Doug and Russ, their father, Vic Peters, succumbed to ALS, finally, back in 2007. For them all, and for the family and friends who knew and loved Vic, it all was a dreadful time. And now, with Sharon being taken by cancer too, how awful it is that we each must march on, without her. How very sad for her two daughters, Maryanne, and Jessica (with Charles and little baby Leo, who will not get to know his grandmother,) and for Sharon’s dearly beloved husband, Ken.
“My funeral was last week,” beamed Morrie. “All those people saying all those wonderful things about me, and I got to hear every word. I kept thinking; Morrie would’ve liked this! And I did!”
Sharon would beam at the reminder. During the dreadful last months, we all gave her love and care, and our prayers were felt by her, to be sure. And now, as she is off on “that final journey into the great unknown,” as Morrie puts it, she indeed has packed with her our love and concerns and appreciation for all that she gave us, while she was still here, running her marathons in the psyche of our consciousness, sharing her love and good humour and deep interest in our lives. So, it continues. She would want us to share our puns. She would want fun.
On Feb 7th, to my texting her about kismet and the unending love we shall have for her, always, she responded: “I cannot say anything quite so eloquent but say it like this: love, love, love.”
Yet her eloquence lay in the very art of love with which she contributed to life and gave to us all; it was so much greater than mere words. And as for sunshine, she shall always be a ray of love and lightness of being in our memories, for each of us. We now can but stand at the sidelines, cheering her on in the marathon of our minds, sustaining her spirit in our hearts, and carrying her love for us, always.